"Slowly, many ‘voices’ came together. The journey involved multiple elements — geographical, and contemporary scenarios…" While Academy-Award winner Resul Pookutty designed the soundscapes, musicians across generations were chosen for the mega-project — Bombay Jayashri, Uday Bhawalkar, M.D. Pallavi, Aditya Srinivasan, Apoorva Krishna, Rasika Shekar, Deu Khan Manganiyar and Sumesh Narayanan.
The play was staged on February 24 at the ‘Mahindra Roots Festival’ in Mumbai, introducing the audiences to an enthralling blend of music, stagecraft and storytelling. It also delved into the musicians’ journey — from the time they decided to join their gurus, their varied experiences and their hope for the future. The festival also boasted theatre performances, folk music, classical music and poetry, contemporary Sufi, Abhangas, Bengal’s Baul music tradition, tribal music forms and immersive storytelling.
Abel, whose production ‘The Manganiyar Seduction’ was part of the recent ‘International Theatre Festival of Kerala 2023’, however feels there are hardly enough theatre festivals in the country.
"Some are good because they are headed by good curators who are extremely passionate. We definitely need more platforms willing to take unconventional routes."
Also known for his productions like ‘Othello in Black and White’, ‘Flowers’, and ‘A Hundred Snake Charmers’ which have travelled across the globe, the director with an expansive body of work says he would like to work with dancers now.
"Dance is a form that I am very keen to explore. Frankly, I do not know if I’m ready for it because it is challenging and layered but I would really love to explore it though."
The director, who does not work with bound scripts but devises productions says the latter come sans restrictions. "Such productions take a life of their own. They are born in front of you. With a bound script, you cannot really experiment too much."
While his experiences in Amsterdam were reflected in ‘The Kitchen’, Abel says it is paramount for him to create what he experiences in different cultures.
"That is precisely what is so interesting about travelling," he concludes.
(Sukant Deepak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)